On day two of my experiment to see if one person could bring about world peace I needed a reminder.
On day one I had shared my experience with my dear friend Jane. She loved what I was up to. I knew enough about myself to know that I have tons of great ideas and like Darwin's finches, only the strong ones survive and they usually involved Netflix and ice cream. So I asked Jane to keep me on task. I was driving home from work and at a red light when I saw her text.
"A stranger is going to be so blessed by your interaction today."
Oh yeah! That idea thingie I had about world peace!
Yesterday was dogs and tattoos from a female barista in Seattle. Today, back at home I now had a second chance to generate world peace. I pulled over into my grocery store. By "my" I mean "mine" as an excuse to use more quotation marks without reason.
As I walked in a saw about 10 women at first and knew I didn't want to make this about approaching women per se. In that moment I adjusted my sampling to alternate between men and women. I needed a man. And by "need" I meant.....nevermind.
An Asian man in his middle years was checking out the bread at the bakery then decided in a quick fashion he was going to buy some olives from the olive bar. Are they called olive bars? This one was. It had stools.
"Excuse me, sir, I'm doing an experiment. I'd like to ask you about two important things to you so that I may communicate and forward to the world." My delivery had improved. I was so proud. I noticed he was a bit taken aback, much like the barista. I noticed then how similar those two were. Similar reactions.
Hmmmmm.....I noted this in my mental graph book of science.
"Ah," he said. He pulled back from the olive bar and gave me a look as if reading me. I stayed still and again, did not fill space with noise. He had a basket and pulled it up as he thought a moment. He took a step back further into the aisle and said, "I believe in giving people second chances on first impressions." I found that to be beautiful because it meant I wasn't in immediate harm.
"So," I said, also stepping back a little, mirroring his action, "don't judge a book by its cover? Learn something more about the person before passing judgment - give them plenty of chances to show their true self?"
"That's it," he said. "Yes." He looked at me waiting for me. I paused about 5 seconds.
"And how about the second thing that is important to you?" I asked.
He paused again for a moment then stepped towards me gently and with grace. "I think people should be ok stepping outside their comfort zones on a regular basis."
I couldn't help but add right away. "Like right now?" I laughed a little and he joined me.
"Yes, like right now."
I nodded and said, "Thank you. I will communicate to the world the value of retaining judgment on strangers and the value of stepping outside of one's comfort zone."
I found myself bowing a little. Was it because I had profiled him as an Asian? I sure hope not. Sometimes I find my actions and thoughts just triggered and this project is an attempt to avoid doing that. I did feel honored that he gave my question some real thought and the bow felt to me more of a sign of respect than a Profiled Trigger Response (we call that a PTR in the industry). After assessing myself while walking out of the grocery store, the bow was indeed authentic. Sometimes a bow is just a bow.
How perfect were his answers? Here I was, over the age of 40 trying to take that step forward to better the world I thought I was going to take right out of high school. Sure, I'd made a difference in many people's lives, but how many times was it actually intentional? Not too many. Might not get through my fingers and toes before I stopped counting. So I was taking my second chance.
Then he says, "step out of your comfort zone". Was he saying that for me? Was he acknowledging me for stepping out of my comfort zone? Sometimes I wish my interviewees were contractually obligated to sit and explain their answers for a good 30 minutes. I feel deep dives like this work wonders on getting the kinks out of our own souls.
So, how about you? Ready to take your second chance? Maybe you're still working on your first one. That's ok. That is great news because now you know you have a safety net. You can really go for it right now knowing you have an extra life in the bank.
If you feel that you have done all you can and there's nothing else to do to improve your lot in life or others, then look again. There are so many opportunities to see the beauty again in the world. We should all try to get to that state where we are 5 years old and the world is our play place. It will all end one day, that is for sure, so if you need me, I'll be on the monkey bars mentally mapping out my next pillow fort.
There's a popular saying, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." All those things right outside of your comfort zone (go ahead and list them...) are avenues for you to experience a richer and fuller life. But you know that, don't you? Why don't you take that step? There's only two logical answers and both are cop outs: time and fear.
Time is a human construct. It doesn't exist. Time was invented so you could participate in the rat race. How can there be a race without it being timed? Being busy is a construct. It allows you to avoid taking responsibility for choosing priorities. Take a look at that one for a moment and tell me if I'm wrong. You either prioritize something or you don't. To say you are busy, "otherwise you'd totally meet someone out for a drink", is bunk. Going out is not a priority for you. Stop blaming "being busy".
Fear is a human construct too. There is authentic fear (the "gun-to-the-head" scenario) and then there is inauthentic fear (the "just-about-everything-else" scenario). Inauthentic fear is that fear that driving from your home to work will put you in danger. Sure, there's traffic. Sure, there's probably someone with murder in his or her heart out there this morning. There's lots of things that could go wrong but look at all the moments of your life and calculate how many went wrong. The odds are stacked in favor of you having a peaceful life.
Then why do we hide from living?
Somehow we are giving fear too much credit as being why we survive. We are idolizing fear as that which allows us to make it through the day. "If it weren't for my fear, I might have gotten that website published today. Then my GOD! the horror that could have developed from that."
It's laughable but not funny. I'll have more to talk about on this matter later. But for now, do yourself (and the world that loves you) a favor. Take a baby step out of your comfort zone right now and take that second chance.
Namaste and all that good stuff.